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Protestors repeat call for criminal charges in Cummings death

The public fight over the 2016 death of India Cummings moved to the steps of City Hall Thursday, as activists increase their calls for criminal prosecutions.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The day after Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard blasted the state's final report about the death of Cummings after she spent more than two weeks deteriorating at the county Holding Center, activists were steaming. Cummings family lawyer Matthew Albert is suing, but says criminal charges are much more important and no one seems to be bringing them.

Albert questioned whether Albany may have removed names in the report, but he said he can identify many of them and will find more.

"In terms of public opinion, I think public opinion was almost wait and see, giving the county the benefit of the doubt, to a certain extent," said Albert, "and after that report being issued, there is no more doubt. The horrors as to which she suffered are undeniable."

Although the current autopsy report lists the cause of death as undetermined, the state report says Cummings' treatment at the Holding Center amounted to homicide.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Taniqua Simmons, president of the Buffalo United Community Coalition, said the report from the New York State Commission of Correction makes clear what happened.

"Here we have a report, a 33-page report, that lays out in specifics of who did what and what procedures and policies were not followed and how human life was disregarded, every day," Simmons said, "and we don't understand how this case is not being prosecuted."

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said earlier this week he has been talking with the state Attorney General's office about the case and the possibility of taking over the case. If that happens, it would be under the same executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that led to investigations of two deaths involving Buffalo Police officers.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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